Spieth sets single-season earnings mark

By Doug FergusonSeptember 27, 2015, 10:34 pm

ATLANTA - At age 22, Jordan Spieth became the first $22 million man in golf Sunday.

Spieth capped off a dream season when he poured in putts from all over East Lake and closed with a 1-under 69 for a four-shot victory in the Tour Championship. That was all he needed to become the youngest player to capture the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.

His fifth victory of the year, including two majors, was worth $1,485,000 and allowed the Texan to set a PGA Tour record with $12,030,465. And if that wasn't enough, Spieth went back to No. 1 in the world.

His battle with Henrik Stenson long over, Spieth finished it off in fitting fashion. He made an 8-foot par putt that was never going anywhere but right in the heart.

''This is one I cannot wait to celebrate,'' Spieth said.

The first person to greet him was his little sister, Ellie, who keeps him so grounded. His parents, girlfriend, grandfather and high school friends from Dallas were at East Lake to watch another amazing performance in a year filled with them.

Stenson couldn't do much about it.


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On two holes around the turn with the Swede in tight for a certain birdie, Spieth matched him with a 20-foot birdie on the par-5 ninth and a 45-foot birdie on the par-3 11th. At that point, Stenson just stared at Spieth with a wry smile and patted him on the back.

''It's been a phenomenal year for him,'' Stenson said after a 72 to tie for second. ''I watched it firsthand at the first two rounds at Augusta, and he played phenomenal and putted phenomenal. And it was the same putting display, really, today - just an exhibition on the greens, to be honest.

''His putting and mental focus is the best in the world. It's hard to argue that.''

And there's no longer an argument for PGA Tour player of the year.

Jason Day had five victories, including his first major at the PGA Championship, and there was talk a sixth win and the FedEx Cup might put the Australian in the discussion. Not anymore. Spieth won the Masters and U.S. Open, missed a playoff by one shot at the British Open in his spirited run for the Grand Slam and was runner-up at the PGA.

Along with winning the money list, Spieth won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average.

Stenson made a $1 million putt of his own, though it was the least he could do. He was three shots behind when he shanked his shot from the 17th fairway and made double bogey. That dropped him into a four-way tie for fourth and moved him to No. 3 in the FedEx Cup. But he bounced back with a 60-foot birdie putt on the last hole to tie for second and finish No. 2 in the FedEx Cup for a $3 million bonus (instead of $2 million).

Danny Lee (65) and Justin Rose (66) joined Stenson in second place. For Stenson, it was his third runner-up finish in the FedEx Cup playoffs, and his fifth runner-up finish this year without a victory. He still has more events left on the European Tour.

But this week - and year - was all about Spieth.

Even when he missed the cut in the opening two playoff events, Spieth knew he could atone for it all by winning the Tour Championship. He showed up Monday morning to get to work on the range, and Sunday morning was even more impressive. Spieth arrived three hours before his tee time, dressed in tennis shoes as he went to the practice green.

''Early grind,'' caddie Michael Greller said.

They only do that at the majors, and Spieth approached the Tour Championship that way. Ultimately, that's what finished off his big year.

''This is incredible,'' Spieth said. ''This is an event where we approached it like a major championship. I didn't have a great playoff, but I put a lot into this week. Mentally, I stayed in it. And boy, that putter sure paid off.''

Spieth had made only two bogeys in 58 holes at East Lake until he made two in a row at Nos. 5 and 6 to fall into a share of the lead with Stenson. He three-putted the sixth by hitting his first putt 6 feet by the hole, and he left a long birdie putt on the next hole well short.

''C'mon, buddy, get your speed right,'' Spieth said as he walked off the green.

It was a gentle scolding at just the right time.

Spieth seized control with an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 8, a two-shot swing when Stenson took bogey from the trees and the bunker. The next half-hour was like a highlight reel from Spieth's year on the greens, especially the long birdie putt on the 11th.

''You're feeling like you got a good chance to make up some ground,'' Stenson said. ''But he just poured that one in the middle. It's fun to watch and just say, 'Well done.'''

There really wasn't much else to say.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.


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Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

“It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

“I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

Let it go.

Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

“I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

“It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

“I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

The only thing left to do?

Let it go.

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Z. Johnson may have to pay for the jet home

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 1:23 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Zach Johnson will have some bragging rights when he gets back to the ultimate golf frat house on Friday after a second-round 67 moved him into the lead at The Open.

Johnson is rooming with Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Kevin Kisner, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler this week at Carnoustie. It’s a tradition that began two years ago at Royal Troon.

Kisner joked on Thursday after he took the first-round lead that the perks for the house/tournament front-runner were limited: “I probably get to eat first,” he said.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


There is, however, one running wager.

“Two years ago we, I don't know if you call it bet, but agreement that, if you win, you get the jet and you buy it, so we go home,” said Johnson, who added that because of varying travel arrangements, the wager might not be needed this year. “I didn't pay last year. Somebody else did.”

Spieth won last year’s championship at Royal Birkdale.

Despite the expense, Johnson said he didn’t know how much it costs to charter a private flight back to the United States, but it’s a good problem to have.

“I’d be happy to fork it over,” he smiled.